Dracula: A Symphony in Moonlight and Nightmares

The 1980s graphic novels from Marvel and DC have proven to be discount shelf catnip for me lately. That’s probably because they’ve been popping up a lot at my LCS and at fairly reasonable prices. For years, the only ones I had were a couple of random DC ones as well as the “God Loves Man Kills” X-Men graphic novel. Now, I’ve got several, many of which are random and not as sought after as, say, the more famous ones that the Big Two put out before normal-sized trades became more of a thing.

Written and painted by John J. Muth, who was best known as the artist on J.M. DeMatteis’ Moonshadow title for Marvel’s Epic line (which Vertigo would reprint in 1995), the graphic novel takes a portion of Bram Stoker’s book and takes it in a different direction, using text (in both prose and script form) along with watercolor painting.

And it’s absolutely gorgeous. This early graphic novel format was perfect for projects like this, which set out to be a little more experimental as well as “artsy” in some ways. I looked at the Thor-adjacent Raven Banner by Charles Vess last month and whereas I am pretty sure that would have looked nice in a regular format comic book of the time, the glossy oversized pages of the graphic novel made it look beautiful. Similarly with this. Muth’s artwork (more illustrative than sequential) is both moody and erotic, as he takes Stoker’s novel in a direction that’s more explicit than implicit and focuses more on the characters of Mina and Lucy than Jonathan and Van Helsing.

In fact, Muth eschews pretty much all of the Romanian settings of the original novel and has it take place entirely within England, with Dracula having arrived by ship and our main characters realizing that something strange is upon them. Without giving too much away, the women become entranced by the vampire while their corresponding men work their way toward figuring out what exactly this menace is.

I got this for $10, which is usually a little more than I pay for something like this. But I figured it was #HorrorComicsMonth and I had kept seeing this in the discount area at my LCS, so I went for it. I am definitely happy I did. Stoker’s novel has been adapted and interpreted so many ways, and the character has a long history beyond his original text. Seeing this interpretation made me want to go back and read the original novel, and has also made me curious about Muth’s other comics work.

Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?


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